THE first ever national memorial service for people who have died from eating disorders is being held in the Capital.
Family and friends were gathering at St Giles’ Cathedral this afternoon to light candles for their loved ones.
Louise Weddell, 52, and her husband, Colin, 58, from Currie, whose daughter Lindsay’s death from anorexia at the age of 20 led to widespread reform of the treatment of eating disorders in Scotland, will be in attendance.
Lindsay weighed just six stone when she died, and had been shunted between nine treatment centres during the six years she suffered the condition.
Following her death, health boards were accused of failing to provide adequate services for people with eating disorders and as a result a new 12-bed unit for patients was opened at St John’s Hospital in Livingston earlier this year.
Figures released under Freedom of Information indicate that 29 patients, some as young as ten, were treated for eating disorders in the last year, a ten per cent hike on the previous year.
Mum-of-three Louise said the figures proved that despite recent improvements “more still needs to be done to fight this insidious illness”.
She said: “Changes have been made but a lot more needs to be done to tackle the stigma surrounding eating disorders and increase the level of support.
“Improvements such as more group therapy, family meetings, improved education and better communication are needed. GPs, schools and parents also need to be further alerted to the severity of the disease.
“We fought hard for our daughter’s treatment for six years and in the end it wasn’t enough. I firmly believe my daughter would be alive today if the St John’s facility had existed when she was being treated.
“No family should have to go through what we went through, we were made to feel it was in some way our fault. People dismiss it as just a fad or girls trying to be thinner. It’s neither of these things but a psychiatric illness.”
The memorial service has been organised by the Scottish Eating Disorder Interest Group.Its chair, Dr Jane Morris, said: “Eating disorders isolate sufferers and families in life. Bereavement can feel like a lonely and shameful secret for families, carers and professionals. It is comforting to acknowledge that these beloved people were killed by a cruel illness.”
The service starts at 2pm and a new book of remembrance is to be opened.